Getting there was a real adventure. First our GPS sent us on a 50 km detour because the Vecchia Masseria listed in the POI file bore no resemblance in space to the real location. We stopped to ask directions twice, but peasants working in the fields have no idea where this place is, even if you can understand their dialect.
We drove back to Piazza Armerina and in true "Amazing Race" style went to the local hotel for directions. Hint: if two opinions are offered, accept the advice of the senior. Drive south out of town on S.S. 117 bis in the direction of Gela for about 18km. Going south, there is no warning about the little lane on the left. (Coming in from the south, there are several signs from about 30km out.) Once you find the side road, follow it into the woods and do not despair when the pavement ends. Follow the road for another 1.5km and this little slice of heaven will appear.
We had booked 1 standard and 1 superior room for our 6 night stay. Our friends quickly upgraded to the much more spacious superior. Our "room" had 2 separate bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms on 2 floors, with a sitting area and a small kitchenette.
The staff was both attentive and professional, from check in to restaurant service to check out, including the optional tourist information.
Whatever you do, don't overlook the optional evening meal. We thought we would try it on our first night as it was too late to go anywhere else, and ended up eating at the hotel every night of our stay, even timing our daytime outings to ensure we would return in time for dinner. You are supposed to advise the staff before you leave for the day if you will be back for dinner, but after a couple of days Fatene would accept our promise to TRY and be back on time, reassuring us that dinner would be there for us if we made it, and not to worry if we didn't make it.
Dinner was a different culinary experience every night, showcasing local Sicilian cuisine and produce grown on the hotel/farm premises. We averaged 5 courses every night including appetizers, pasta, primo, secondo and dessert. Sicilian wine and bottled water was included in the 28 Euro price tag. The food was overall rated as 4 star, and the friendly service rated 5 stars. You are not going to find food this good at this price in many restaurants.
As a vacation experience, we highly recommend the "Agri Turismo" stay, the quiet grounds and the remote location only add to the experience. We too had a wedding on site during our stay, but I slept right through any noise and loud music.
A word of warning, this is a "cash-only" society due to its remote location and lack of telephone and internet facilities. However, this is not all that unusual in the remoter parts of Europe and the Middle East, and we must waive our North American aversion to a non-plastic society. We paid our deposit in cash months in advance and with no official receipt in hand, we were prepared for a hard time on check-in, but they had received our 2 deposits and we had been worried for nothing. The owners and staff are completely trustworthy and carrying that extra 1,000 Euros in cash was really no big deal.
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- Also Known As:
- Vecchia Masseria Caltagirone, Sicily, Italy